Gulf of Mexico
Manasota Key / Charlotte County (Photo by Peter Ravella)

Needed for Charlotte County Beach Nourishment Project: Easements

ENGLEWOOD — Damian Ochab is happy Sarasota County is joining Charlotte County in its effort to nourish the eroded shoreline along Manasota Key.

“That makes it a regional project,” said Ochab who is president of the Manasota/Sandpiper Key Association.

As a regional effort, he said, the project has a better chance to qualify for state funding to offset the $21.3 million cost of dredging more than 1 million cubic yards of sand along Manasota Key’s Gulf shoreline.

Project managers hope to start the dredging project this winter.

But the county needs to garner more of the construction easements needed to survey the shoreline, establish an erosion control line before the counties can dredge and build up the shoreline with sand.

“We can’t lose this opportunity,” Ochab said. “All you have to do is walk the beach north of (the public Englewood Beach in Charlotte) and north of (the public Blind Pass Beach in Sarasota). We need to act as a community. This is the best thing for the barrier island.”

In an email to Ochab and others, Charlotte County project manager Matthew Logan explained, “The purpose of this project is to enhance the coastline and provide increased storm protection for the residents on the island.

“As you know there is due process to the establishment of the (erosion control line),” Logan said. “The intent is not to force this issue but work with the residents to create the project best suited for the community.”

But that’s not how all the property owners see the beach project.

A contingent of 20 to 25 of the 91 Gulf-front property owners on Shoreview Drive are reluctant to sign, Ochab said, for a multiple of reasons. Other properties are in trusts, and the county needs to find the people who have the authority to sign off on an easement.

Once an erosion control line is established, whatever beach is landward of the line is deemed as private property and any sand west of the line to the Gulf is “public beach.” Those with the most sand in front of their properties should be the ones most anxious to sign the easements, since all that sand to the mean high water line will be private, Ochab suggested.

“We cannot go onto your private property without your permission,” said Michael Poff, president of Coastal Engineering Consultants, told Manasota/Sandpiper Key Association members in April. His firm is engineering and overseeing the project.

The county is continuing to work with property owners, Logan said, and the goal is to have all easements in place next month.

For more information, visit “Project Status” on Charlotte’s web page at www.charlottecountyfl.gov. Email Logan at Matthew.Logan@CharlotteCountyFL.gov.

Email: reilly@sun-herald.com